Will this be on the test?

Will This Be on the Test? is a book by Dana T. Johnson and Jennifer E. Price.

The question is valid – what matters for the students? And how could you pass the test with good results?

I think these are two different questions:

  • What do you need from school to succeed in life? In these, there are multiple skills that are currently not taught in most Romanian schools, like entrepreneurship, leadership, managing finances, career decisions, how to manage your emotions, how to handle fake news, how to help someone in trouble. You don’t even learn the meta on learning – how to learn. The paradox you spend a lot of your life in school, but you’re never taught how to learn, read, take notes, memorize, improvise, be creative, write an essay.
  • Also, for the current curriculum, lots of things can be improved. You could improve a lot in the way subjects are taught and on the current information provided in school manuals.
  • On another hand, on the things that you do learn, you’re not given enough chances, in my opinion, to succeed. You have to learn a lot of things, but you’re not prepared for taking standardized tests. How about each student in Romania give a Math test three times a year? Or Physics, Literature, or Sports? The same subjects, the same criteria, applied to all students in Romania. If you could take the tests online, there will be even more standardization. For things like „informatics lab” or „physical education” or even „religion”, I would consider giving just a „passed/not passed” criteria. You could also be given lots of preparation tests. Do you want to know what will be on the test for Informatics? While you won’t be given an exact answer, you could be given 20 similar tests. By doing them all, in my opinion, you could be much better prepared for taking the „actual” test. I faced this in a lot of schools I’ve been part of, on all levels, from primary school to Secondary or Tertiary education. I would be provided with a learning phase and a testing phase. But I wouldn’t be 100% sure about „Will this be on the test?”. Oh, and do use cameras on students. More importantly, I wouldn’t have the occasion to test myself multiple times, as to be certain that even if I wouldn’t get the top mark, I would be in the 10th or 20th percentile. Also, what I’m most upset about is the lack of standardization between various schools. School can be a totally different experience and can have a totally different unit of measure, depending on the school, teacher, level of your colleagues, your level. So, if you’re the first in a poor class you will likely be treated differently from when you’re average in a top class. That’s just not fair. Also, some teachers are too relaxed with giving top grades, while others too strict in giving grades (so, they give poor grades, mostly). Moreover, while I agree that one teacher can teach differently from another teacher, I don’t agree that two teachers should give a different test, and grade this on a personal level. Not when, like it’s the case in Romania, grades in high school determine your future College.

Having a unified system for grading things makes two things possible:

  • A student will know that an 8 in a poor school is equal to an 8 in a great school. An 8 is an 8. Students will know their value.
  • A teacher and a school will know if they are able to improve a student’s performance or not. If a pupil from 5th to 8th grade is rated at 7.5/10, and then, in high school it reaches 9, if the system is the same anyone can tell that the student facilitated the growth of the student. But it will also show that a school with only students with poor grades doesn’t bring performance, so something must by wrong in there.

To conclude, some key points from this article:

  • You need some other subjects to be taught in the curriculum.
  • For the current subjects, you need better information.
  • Do use cameras when taking tests.
  • I vote for standardized tests, on a national level.
  • For things like „informatics lab” or „physical education” or even „religion”, I would consider giving just a „passed/not passed” criteria.
  • I vote for being able, before a test, to test yourself with at least 20 other similar tests. Not identical, but similar. And to see what you did wrong and how can you improve.

Looking back at my education, if these things would be fixed perhaps we would have a much better educational system.

Kyller - Test day
Kyller – Test day, https://flic.kr/p/2kphtLd

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